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Can You Explain How Chapter 35 Benefits Work?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I’m about to start receiving DEA benefits (Chapter 35). I’ve seen that the monthly payment is $936, but is that in addition to my tuition? Will VA pay for all of my tuition costs for the semester up front? I have no idea how this works!

A: Unfortunately, under Chapter 35, you are responsible to pay your own tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses. However, you do get 45 months of education benefits and as a dependent child, you have up to age 26 to use them. If you are a surviving spouse, then you generally have 10 years to use them up. Any unused benefits at the end of the delimitation date will be lost.

Under Chapter 35, you can take either degree-producing or non-degree courses including:

  • certifications
  • licensing
  • apprenticeships/OJT.

Just ensure your school and course are VA-Approved.

If you haven’t already, you should go to the eBenefits website and submit VA Form 22-5490. That will get you your Certificate of Eligibility that shows your are eligible to use Chapter 35 benefits.

If you are eligible for Chapter 35 as a dependent child, you may also be eligible for the Fry Scholarship. Basically, this allows you to use your  parent’s Post 9/11 GI Bill, if he/she was eligible for it and died in the line of duty. It pays considerably more being it pays for your tuition, plus gives you a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend up to $1,000 per year.  Being you asked if the VA will pay your tuition, you may have already heard about this program.

If you do qualify for both the Fry Scholarship and Chapter 35, you will be limited to a total of 48 months of combined benefits under the VA’s Rule of 48. You could use up 36 months of the Fry Scholarship and then switch to Chapter 35 and use another 12 months.

If you are a surviving spouse, then you would not be eligible for the Fry Scholarship, but you may qualify for other scholarships, grants and loans. Start with submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what you would qualify for in educational funding.

Comments  (37)

I’ve been getting VA benefits for a few years. They are really nice. Good luck EVER getting a hold of the VA on the 1st when you check is late, yet again. NEVER rely on the money to be there on time. Expect to be on hold anywhere between 30-45 minutes for a 2 sec question.

posted by Scarlet Presley
2:56 pm on December 10, 2011

My husband was medically retired and is receiving 100% VA disability. Would I qualify for Chapter 35 benefits? He just got out in Dec 2010. My state also offers tuition waiver for dependents of disabled veterans and for veterans themselves.

posted by rhapsodiesmom
11:51 pm on January 5, 2012

Most likely you would. If approved, you would get 45 months of benefits paid at $957 per month. Out of that you would have to pay all your own education expenses. In this day and age, you have to work all the angles.

posted by Ron Kness
3:40 pm on January 22, 2012

My father was medically reired from the service due to injuries recieved in Iraq. He has a 7o% rating from the VA. I am graduating from high school in 2013. Would I be eligible for Chapter 35 benefits.

posted by Nicole Mauro
9:52 am on August 23, 2012

Most likely not. Generally speaking he would have to be 10% totally and permanently injury or deceased before you would qualify for Chapter 35.

posted by Ron Kness
10:26 am on September 9, 2012

I was told since my husband died from a over 100% service connected disability, my children would attend any state college totally paid for. Does this include housing as well?

posted by robin
10:46 am on October 9, 2012

Chapter 35 does not include a housing allowance, but they may qualify for other education programs.

posted by Ron Kness
8:14 pm on October 12, 2012

How long does it take to get approve for DEA benefits after all the paperwork is submitted?

posted by Angela
10:13 am on October 16, 2012

do you have to have a certin amount of credit hours to get the chapter 35 money every month?

posted by cassy
7:54 pm on October 18, 2012

It can take as long as it does for other GI Bill paperwork – 8 to 10 weeks.

posted by Ron Kness
1:19 pm on October 20, 2012

Yes and no. It depends on what you consider “Chapter 35 money”. If you are half-time or less, then the maximum amount you can get paid is the amount of your tuition and eligible fees. If you are between 1/2 time and 1/4 time the most you can get is $491.00. If you are 1/4 time or less, that maximum amount drops down to $246.75. So you have to be over 1/2 time to get anything above and beyond the cost of your tuition and eligible fees.

posted by Ron Kness
10:22 am on November 14, 2012

My husband has a rating of 60% from the VA he is in the process of going to review board which will determine if he will be medically retired because he can not do his job due to injuries sustained in Iraq/Kuwait. Would we qualify for any education benefits. thank you

posted by Elizabeth Bull
1:19 pm on January 9, 2013

Does my daughter have medical benefits under Chapter 35?

posted by Amy
2:18 pm on January 31, 2013

can a chapter 35 dependent get yellow ribbon enhancement

posted by vicki
10:08 pm on February 13, 2013

No, as that is a feature of only the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

posted by Ron Kness
12:40 pm on March 10, 2013

No she doesn’t. Chatper 35 is a GI Bill for education only program, however depending on her school, she may have some health insurance coverage if her school made her take out their health insurance.

posted by Ron Kness
8:39 am on March 16, 2013

I”m a 100% permanent and totally service connected disabled veteran. I am using my montgomery gi bill currently. If I use up my gi bill and post 911 gi bill, meaning 48 months of benefits, will the VA Rule of 48 cause my dependents and future wife to not have VA Chapter 35 benefits? If not, then, if my wife uses 48 months of chapter 35 benefits will my children then lose eligibility to Chapter 35 benefits due to the VA Rule of 48?

posted by Mark Young
9:16 pm on April 1, 2013

My daughter is currently getting chapter 35 benefits. She is in the honors program and tutor kids constantly for free. Since I no longer work as I need to take care of her father, I have asked her if she could get a tutoring job. Is she allowed to have a small part time job while going to school full time with her DEA/chapter 35 benefits?

posted by vivi
5:34 pm on April 10, 2013

Yes she is. It will not have any effect on her Chapter 35 benefits.

posted by Ron Kness
10:53 am on April 19, 2013

If you are using your 35 benefits for a certification program, and it only runs 18 weeks, will I get paid the full tution cost or just my 957 a month?

posted by Jordan
5:10 pm on April 24, 2013

My daughter was approved for chapter 35 in 2009 they have not given her anything yet. they misunderstood her and had her to sign the papers again in 2011, told her that is when her pay year starts is that right. Still haven’t gotten any thing as of today.

posted by Ethe lAnderson
6:03 pm on April 29, 2013

The only way your daughter will receive Chapter 35 benefits is if she enrolls in school. The approval only verified that she was eligible to receive benefits, not that she would automatically. The paperwork her school sends in on her behalf when she registers as a Chapter 35 student is what triggers the payments to start coming.

posted by Ron Kness
8:44 am on May 1, 2013

The GI Bill benefits you use has no effect on Chapter 35 benefits for your spouse or children. Each dependent member would get up to 44 months of Chapter 35.

posted by Ron Kness
9:02 am on May 1, 2013

Just the $957 per month for the duration of the course and you have to pay your own tuition, books and other related expenses.

posted by Ron Kness
9:19 am on May 1, 2013

My father had 70% rating from the VA they recently denied me from getting school benefits. Does the person have to be 100% and deceased? Or can I still get benefits even if he only had 70 % and he’s deceased?

posted by Brianna
10:16 pm on June 7, 2013

The way it is worded on the VA website is for you to be eligible to receive Chapter 35 benefits, one of the following conditions has to apply:
==> Veteran who is permanently and totally disabled as the result of, or dies of, a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of or be aggravated by active duty.

==> Veteran with a permanent and total service-connected disability who dies from any cause.

Because your dad was rated at 70%, he does not meet the criteria for either condition and therefore you would not be eligible for education benefits. Permanently and totally constitutes a 100% rating.

posted by Ron Kness
9:22 pm on June 16, 2013

Can you use chapter 35 benefit to go back to college for your Masters Degree

posted by jerry mann
10:54 am on June 26, 2013

I work for the VA and I know how hard we all work…the length of time holding on is simply due to the large number of calls we get each day. I am sorry for the long holds but it is not due to a lack of hard work. Also, a lot of calls could be answered through http://www.ebenefits.va.gov if you have a premium account and it only takes a few moments to set it up.

posted by Working Hard For You
7:53 pm on June 26, 2013

Good advice. We probably all could do a better job of trying to find answers on our own before calling the VA (and then complaining because of the on-hold time or call back message that you get). That would free up a lot of time that is right now spend on calls that the caller could have solved him/herself with a little research work. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

However as a person that does a lot of research on the GI Bill, the VA website could be more user friendly thus making it easier to find answers to questions. I’m experienced at using it and I still find it hard to get the information I want. I can imagine a newbie just throwing their arms up in frustration after being on it awhile and decide to call and try and get an answer (just to be put on hold).

So VA, if you do a better job of organizing your website so people can EASILY find the information they are looking for, the volume of calls may decrease, thus making the situation better for everyone.

posted by Ron Kness
10:37 am on June 28, 2013

Yes you can. Under Chapter 35, you get a fixed monthly amount of $987 per month that you can use to help pay for tuition. Keep in mind that generally speaking you have to use Chapter 35 benefits before you attain the age of 26.

posted by Ron Kness
10:46 am on June 28, 2013

Your husband would qualify. Because his disabilities are service-connected, he would qualify for 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI bill at the 100% tier level. Depending on how many years he has in, he may or may not qulaify to transfer benefits to you. If he has served for at least 10 years, he most likely would qualify for the transfer option. If he has not yet served 20 years, most likely not.

posted by Ron Kness
11:52 am on July 5, 2013

I am currently receiving Ch. 35 benefits. I have been offered a Graduate Teaching Assistant position with the University where I am studying. Will this affect my benefit amount? Thank you!

posted by M. Shelby
2:59 pm on September 14, 2013

I have been total and permanent since 1995.I was married 7 years ago for the first time.Is she eligible for chapter 35?

posted by Rufus Huxely
9:52 pm on September 20, 2013

Can you use concurrently both the DEA and the Post 9/11 educations benefits at the same time or just one or the other?

posted by Susan Hendricks
10:19 pm on October 28, 2013

No you can’t use the concurrently (both at the same time), however you could use them consecutively (one after the other) up to your maximum of 48 months.

posted by Ron Kness
9:04 pm on October 29, 2013

Most likely not. Chapter 35 benefits ended 10 years from your established disability date which you indicated as 1995.

posted by Ron Kness
9:38 pm on October 29, 2013

No it shouldn’t.

posted by Ron Kness
9:39 pm on October 29, 2013
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